IRVING, Texas – The father of a Muslim student who was detained by school officials for a homemade clock that looked suspiciously like a bomb is now suing the school district for alleged civil rights violations.
Ahmed Mohamed, dubbed “Clock Boy” by the media, was detained by officials at MacArthur High School in Irving last year for bringing a homemade clock to school and ignoring requests from teachers to put the device away. Mohamed was questioned about the device by a school resource officer for about an hour and was charged with possession of a hoax bomb, but chargers were later dropped, the Dallas Morning News reports.
The incident prompted outcry from liberals and Muslim advocates who alleged Mohamed was targeted by officials because of his religion. President Obama raise the profile of the case when he sent out a message on Twitter to the teen that read “Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great,” EAGnews reports.
The incident also exploded online with allegations of islamophobia against school and city officials, who claim Mohamed and his family refused to allow them to release details about the case that would have changed the public’s perception of what actually occurred. Mohamed was ultimately suspended for three days for possessing a prohibited item.
In the immediate aftermath of the case, Mohamed took a world tour, and was photographed with wanted war criminal and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir before visiting the White House at Obama’s request.
Mohamed’s critics, meanwhile, pointed to the incident as an example of “civilization jihad” promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood as a means of attacking western ideals.
“It’s part of their playbook,” Center for Security Policy’s Jim Hanson told Glenn Beck last year. “And they use that as a way to use the freedoms of a society against it.”
“They’re doing a great job of it and in this case they basically took a situation that the police handled properly, the school handled properly, and all of a sudden everyone involved is a hater,” Hanson said.
Mohamed eventually moved to Qatar after receiving a full scholarship to attend a school in Doha, but the boy and his father made a special trip back to Texas during the teen’s summer break to file a lawsuit in federal court on Monday, PBS reports.
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“The lawsuit is based upon the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, as well as Title VI,” Susan Hutchison, an attorney for Mohamed, told reporters at a press event announcing the lawsuit this week.
The suit, filed against the city of Irving, the school district, and MacArthur High School Principal Daniel Cummings, alleges officials “deliberately ignored” Mohamed’s request to have his parents present while he was questioned about the hoax bomb, according to the news site.
The suit also alleges Mohamed’s hoax bomb was not a prohibited item because the device was not listed among items in the Student Code of Conduct that officials forbid students from bringing to school.
“Despite the fact that they knew it wasn’t a bomb, that he never threatened anyone, that he never said it was a bomb, that he never alarmed anyone,” said Hutchison, of Hutchison & Story law firm in Fort Worth. “Despite all of those things, they yanked him out of his chair, put him in handcuffs and arrested him. There was no cause for arrest.”
Hutchison & Story’s website is www.WarriorsforJustice.com.
The lawsuit, which follows the family’s unsuccessful demand for $15 million from the school district in November, is clearly aiming to provide a commentary about the state of “equality and freedom” in America.
“Weill we be faithful to our American principles of equality and freedom or will we let fear and hate prevail, the two biggest evils that will defeat our democracy?” it reads. “History tells us that when we have stood tall and proud for equality and freedom, we have grown as a nation. When we have given in to fear and hate, we flounder.”
Mohamed played into that theme at the press conference in Dallas on Monday.
“I got a lot of support in the beginning, but then again, it’s the hate that ticks because so much of it is damaging,” the teen said, according to PBS. “I get death threats. What did I ever do to someone to get death threats?”
Regardless, school and city officials said they plan to “vigorously defend” the lawsuit.
“Irving ISD continues to deny violating the student’s right and will respond to claims in accordance with court rules,” district spokeswoman Lesley Weave told the Associated Press.
“The city of Irving is prepared to vigorously defend itself and the justifiable actions it took in this matter,” the city told the Dallas Morning News in a prepared statement. “The legal process will allow all facts to be revealed, and the city welcomes that opportunity.”